Welcome!!! I have decided to take a journey deep into my inner self to discover a deeper sense of peace and maybe even to get some of life's most puzzling questions answered. Feel free to join me on this journey and leave your thoughts...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cultural Diversity Curriculum

It is one of my lifelong dreams to create a cultural diversity curriculum for elementary school children ages PreK-6th grade. It is my belief that teaching children the truth about their heritage while they are in their elementary school years will benefit them greatly for the rest of their lives.

My curriculum would focus on helping adults to help young children foster healthy self-esteem, cultural pride, and multi-cultural awareness. Ideally children would develop a joy of lifelong learning from a global perspective as well as interest in, tolerance of, and acceptance of the world’s cultures. Issues would be addressed such as negative images seen on television as well as any other experience they might have in which they are devalued or are made to feel less worthy because of the color of their skin, cultural beliefs, etc.

The Truth

For example, to teach young children, “Christopher Columbus discovered America” is not really providing them with accurate or culturally sensitive information. The truth is that Columbus discovered America for the Europeans who did not yet know about it. Somehow ths story is always told from the Eurocentric point of view, but do we ever ask ourselves what this image does to Native American and Hispanic children (basically any child with ancestors who were indigenous to the North and South American continents)? I would like to structure the dialogue in a way that it at least makes logical sense and reports accurate cultural information.

In my curriculum, Elementary School children would really start to learn about colonialism around the 4th grade, and I think they should learn the truth, not watered down versions or versions that show all people getting along or how that system worked well. Slavery is my history…it has shaped who I am and it has shaped America. Africa is my history, it has shaped who I am and it has helped to shape America.

It is important for all people to see value in people who look like them. 1.) I want to show children people who look like them, especially Hispanic and African-American children. 2.)I want to send positive and important messages to children about people who look like them daily. 3.)I would like to teach children the truth about people who look like them daily. So not just in February…and not just when celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, although those pieces of culture are important. I do not want any culture to be reduced to celebrations because there is more to it than that.

Global Awareness

When I was in the 6th grade, I remember taking World History. It was very sad that there was very little information there about my own culture, about people who looked like me.

Most educational programs nowadays try really hard to engage children in the learning process and encourage young children to become lifelong learners. My curriculum would focus on this as well but it would also help children learn about world events, and help them to develop a more global perspective so that the information learned and the excitement for learning is not lost as children transition into puberty.

So Geography would be a vital and neccessary part of this curriculum. In 4th grade, most children can name the 50 states but can they name any of the countries in Africa, countries in South America, or cities in Mexico? Do they know about Australia and India, as well as the European countries? Because that is what it means to be American. Being American means to draw upon different influences…to be a part of that melting pot or mixed salad so to speak, and in many ways, both.

The Social/Emotional Experience

So how do you explain colonialism to a diverse group of grade-school children without scarring them for life? The most important aspect of my diversity curriculum would be helping children/parents/teachers deal with the difficult emotions surrounding the issues. To be successful, the curriculum cannot neglect to help children start to understand the concept of White Privelege at an early age. So my curriculm would be social-educational in nature whereby we teach facts but we have to deal with social and emotional aspects. I would really prefer this to lying to them. Even if the curriculum is only used partially, it has to include the social/emotional supportive piece.

We don’t want to over-simplify facts, but we would want to help them to try to see the complexity in it all…because even as adults it is still all very complex. They, as do we, have to understand that everyone is going to view situations differently and have different experiences. But by the time these children reach middle school/high school they will have in their tool belt, the skills needed to combat hatred and to maintain healthy and diverse relationships with others. I think that after years of implementing this curriculum in Elementary schools, cliques in the secondary schools would dissipate, or at least not be represented in the way that they are today.

Every child should feel valued by their teachers, principals, parents, and peers...but does every child feel that their culture is valued?

My Motivation

One thing that inspired me to write this article is the issue of Colorism/Shadeism and the research that I've done regarding this topic.

Colorism or Shadeism is discrimination based on skin shade/skin tone vs discrimination based on race/ethnicity. I have compiled a playlist on youtube for anyone who would like to know more about the topic. This playlist features mostly video documentaries which address the issue of colorism/shadeism. At this point, even I have not watched all of them in entirety…overwhelming.

Youtube Playlist: Skin Color Issues, Colorism, Light Skin vs Dark Skin

1 comment:

  1. I did not mean to leave Asia out of the article...children especially love Chinese New Year celebrations...but there is also more about those cultures to teach than just that.